If you often suffer from dust allergies, here are some steps you can take at home to minimise your flare ups.
Dust allergies are a pretty common complaint in Singapore. Flares can range from mildly annoying to downright debilitating. They can also be terribly inconvenient, flaring up at the most inopportune times.
It's absolutely awful when you have back-to-back meetings, or if you have a really packed day and your allergies decide to rain on your parade.
I frequently receive questions from patients like,
Doc, what can I do to improve my symptoms?
Are there any prevention methods that actually help?
Unfortunately, dust is all around us – almost inescapable really. If you have a dust mite allergy, you should be focusing on managing your allergy.
Keep reading to find out more!
What steps can I take to prevent a dust allergy reaction?
We are not here to pull the wool over your eyes. Dust mites cannot be totally eliminated from your home1. You can clean till everything sparkles and there are still going to be there.
Less of them, but still present.
So, the goal here is to minimize the effects. These measures can make a difference in the frequency and severity of your episodes:
Wash your sheets and blankets in hot water
Hot water kills dust mites2. Just make sure that the water is at least 70 degrees Celsius. I recommend that you wash your linens every week and monitor if your symptoms improve. Remember that the water has to be hot – cold water does not work!
Try Zippered Dust-Proof Covers
We recommend you buy zippered covers for your pillows and mattresses – they are amazing! Zippered covers are allergen-impermeable and are designed to keep dust mites and the waste they produce out.
They’re usually made from a few different materials, including fabric, plastic or vinyl – it depends on the brand. Regardless of the material, each zippered cover comes with pores so small they keep dust mites out.
Avoid fabrics that attract dust-mites
Some fabrics are just dust-mite magnets3. While you can wash them frequently in water, you might just want to consider tossing the whole lot. Here is a list of the ones that your inhalant allergy will be happy to see go.
Curtains may add a nice touch to your humble abode, but you are not doing yourself any favors when you have a dust allergy. I suggest something a bit more practical like window tinting or blinds.
Carpets are a haven for dust mites. If you’re considering wall-to-wall carpeting, forget about it. Tile, wood and linoleum floors are your best bet.
- Down covers and pillows
·Down covers and pillows are a definite no-no if you have an inhalant allergy. Saying they harbour dust mites is an understatement. If you own down covers and pillows, you should consider swapping them out for pillows made out of cotton, wool, or natural latex.
- Upholstered furniture
This type of furniture are dust traps and hard to keep clean on a good day. When dust mites encounter upholstered furniture, they dive deep and find cosy places to reproduce. Shampooing only gives a surface clean and does not help. I recommend trying washable cushion covers instead.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a certified filter
I personally recommend HEPA vacuum cleaners as they remove dust mites and mite waste and keep them from getting back into the air. If you vacuum regularly, not only will you see a significant improvement in your air quality but symptoms as well.
Need recommendations for an air purifier? Check out my top air purifier picks.
Try washable rugs
Your mats and rugs should all be washable. Either washing with hot soapy water or dry cleaning will eliminate the dust mites.
Lower the humidity in your home
You can effectively remove moisture from your home by investing in a dehumidifier or an air conditioner. To prevent the reproduction of dust mites in your house, humidity should be less than 50%.
Always use filters in your air conditioner
Certified filters are extremely adept at trapping dust mites. Freestanding air cleaners only clean a small area and are not really worth it when it comes to seriously fighting dust allergies. I also recommend that you stay away from any device that treats the air with heat, electrostatic ions or ozone.
Ask for help when you need it!
In order to really get on board with all the measures, you may need to get some help from a buddy who is allergy free!
You can ask them to help, especially with the vacuuming and if you have to strip your bed of its linens and so on. All of these tasks kick up dust. If you have to be in the room, wear a dust mask to control your exposure.
Also, after your bedroom has been cleaned, stay out while the dust settles. You do not want to end up with a flare. Besides your bedroom, you should also do a little spring cleaning for your entire house.
The measures above are quite thorough and can give you a fighting chance against your dust allergy. I hope that they have helped and symptom-free days are coming your way!
- Wilson JM, Platts-Mills TAE. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2018 Jan-Feb;6(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2017.10.003. PMID: 29310755
- Mosbech H. Allergy. 1985 Feb;40(2):81-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.1985.tb 02665.x.
- Schnyder B, Schweri T, Thomann B, Pichler C. Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 2000 Mar 25;130(12):443-7. PMID: 10780059
This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Ben, M.D on 20/01/21